Youth Access to Firearms

Source of Firearms in Youth Suicides

Among the most tragic suicides are those by young people. Too often youths use their parents’ guns. A study investigating firearm suicide and gun ownership found that for youth ages 18 and under, 79% used a firearm belonging to a family member and 19% used their own firearm (Barber 2022).

Parents may believe that their guns are adequately “hidden” or that their kids would never use them in a suicide attempt. But studies show parents sometimes underestimate their children’s experience handling guns at home. In a study by Baxley and Miller, among gun-owning parents who reported that their children had never handled their firearms at home, 22% of the children, questioned separately, said that they had.

Safe storage makes a difference.

While the risk of youth suicide is lowest in families with no firearms at home, among gun-owning families, youths living in homes in which all firearms are stored unloaded and locked are at lower risk for suicide than those living in homes in which firearms are stored less securely (Grossman 2005).


Barber C, Azrael D, Miller M, Hemenway D. Who owned the gun in firearm suicides of men, women, and youth in five US states?. Prev Med. 2022;164:107066. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2022.107066

Baxley F, Miller M. Parental misperceptions about children and firearms. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 2006;160(5):542-7.

Grossman DC, Mueller BA, Riedy C, et al. Gun storage practices and risk of youth suicide and unintentional firearm injuries. JAMA. 2005;293(6):707-14.

More studies on youth access

More studies on safe storage